Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 17, Issue 5, pp 457–470 | Cite as

Explanatory style of schizophrenic and depressed outpatients

  • Robert J. Silverman
  • Christopher Peterson


We administered an Attributional Style Questionnaire (ASQ) to several outpatient groups—paranoid schizophrenics (n =32), nonparanoid schizophrenics (n =30), and depressives (n =30)—as well as to a normal comparison group of community college students (n =30). Depressives evidenced a more pessimistic explanatory style than paranoid and nonparanoid schizophrenics and normals. Six months later, among those outpatients experiencing hassles, individuals who attributed good events to stable, global, and internal causes were functioning somewhat better than those who attributed good events to unstable, specific, and external causes. We operationalized explanatory “flexibility” as the range of scores on the ASQ and found that outpatients with larger range scores for bad events (presumably showing more flexibility) functioned better than those having smaller range scores.

Key words

adjustment attribution depression flexibility schizophrenia 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abramson, L. Y., Metalsky, G. I., & Alloy, L. B. (1988). The hopelessness theory of depression: Does the research test the theory? In L. Y. Abramson (Ed.),Social cognition and clinical psychology: A synthesis (pp. 33–65). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  2. Abramson, L. Y., Seligman, M. E. P., & Teasdale, J. D. (1978). Learned helplessness in humans: Critique and reformulation.Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 87 49–74.Google Scholar
  3. American Psychiatric Association (1980).Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (3rd ed.). Washington, DC: Author.Google Scholar
  4. Anderson, C. A. (1980).Motivational and performance deficits as a function of attributional style. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Stanford University.Google Scholar
  5. Beck, A. T., Rush, A. J., Shaw, B. F., & Emery, G. (1979).Cognitive therapy of depression. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  6. Beck, A. T., Ward, C. H., Mendelson, M., Mock, J., & Erbaugh, J. (1961). An inventory for measuring depression.Archives of General Psychiatry, 4 561–571.Google Scholar
  7. Cronbach, L. J. (1951). Coefficient alpha and the internal structure of tests.Psychometrika, 16 297–334.Google Scholar
  8. Ellis, A. (1973).Humanistic psychotherapy: The rational-emotive approach. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  9. Endicott, J., Spitzer, R. L., Fleiss, J. L., & Cohen, J. (1976). The Global Assessment Scale: A procedure for measuring overall severity of psychological disturbance.Archives of General Psychiatry, 33 766–771.Google Scholar
  10. Holmes, T. H., & Rahe, R. H. (1967). The social readjustment rating scale.Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 11 213–218.Google Scholar
  11. Horney, K. (1937).The neurotic personality of our time. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  12. Jastak, J. F., & Jastak, S. R. (1964). Short forms of the WAIS and WISC vocabulary subtests.Journal of Clinical Psychology, 20 167–199.Google Scholar
  13. Kanner, A. D., Coyne, J., Schaefer, C., & Lazarus, R. S. (1981). Comparison of two models of stress measurement: Daily hassles and uplifts versus major life events.Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 4 1–39.Google Scholar
  14. Kogan, N., & Wallach, M. A. (1964).Risk taking. New York: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston.Google Scholar
  15. Lazarus, R. (1981). The stress and coping paradigm. In C. Eisdorfer (Ed.),Models for clinical psychopathology (pp. 177–217). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  16. Magaro, P. A., Abrams, L., & Cantrell, P. (1981). The Maine Scale for Paranoid and Nonparanoid Schizophrenia: Reliability and validity.Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 49 438–447.Google Scholar
  17. Maser, J. D., & Cloninger, C. R. (Eds.) (1990).Comorbidity of mood and anxiety disorders. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press.Google Scholar
  18. Meichenbaum, D. (1985).Stress innoculation training. New York: Pergamon Press.Google Scholar
  19. Millon, T. (1981).Disorders of personality. New York: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  20. Moos, R. (1967). Differential effects of ward settings on psychiatric patients.Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 145 272–283.Google Scholar
  21. Moos, R. (1968). Situational analysis of a therapeutic community milieu.Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 73 49–61.Google Scholar
  22. Needles, D. J., & Abramson, L. Y. (1990). Positive life events, attributional style, and hopefulness: Testing a model of recovery from depression.Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 99 156–165.Google Scholar
  23. Patsiokas, A. T., Clum, G. A., & Luscomb, R. L. (1979). Cognitive characteristics of suicide attempters.Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 47 478–484.Google Scholar
  24. Peterson, C. (1991). Meaning and measurement of explanatory style.Psychological Inquiry, 2 1–10.Google Scholar
  25. Peterson, C., & Bossio, L. M. (1991).Health and optimism. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  26. Peterson, C., Maier, S. F., & Seligman, M. E. P. (1993).Learned helplessness: A theory for the age of personal control. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (1984). Causal explanations as a risk factor for depression: Theory and evidence.Psychological Review, 91 347–374.Google Scholar
  28. Peterson, C., Semmel, A., von Baeyer, C., Abramson, L. Y., Metalsky, G. I., & Seligman, M. E. P. (1982). The Attributional Style Questionnaire.Cognitive Therapy and Research, 6 287–299.Google Scholar
  29. Raps, C. S., Peterson, C., Reinhard, K. E., Abramson, L. Y., & Seligman, M. E. P. (1982). Attributional style among depressed patients.Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 91 102–108.Google Scholar
  30. Rogers, R., & Wright, E. W. (1975). Behavioral rigidity and its relationship to authoritarianism and obsessive-compulsiveness.Perceptual and Motor Skills, 40 802.Google Scholar
  31. Ruderman, A. J. (1986). Bulimia and irrational beliefs.Behaviour Research and Therapy, 24 193–197.Google Scholar
  32. Seligman, M. E. P. (1975).Helplessness: On depression, development, and death. San Francisco: Freeman.Google Scholar
  33. Seligman, M. E. P. (1981). A learned helplessness point of view. In L. P Rehm (Ed.),Behavior therapy for depression: Present status and future directions (pp. 123–141). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  34. Seligman, M. E. P. (1991).Learned optimism. New York: Knopf.Google Scholar
  35. Shapiro, D. (1965).Neurotic styles. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  36. Sweeney, P. D., Anderson, K., & Bailey, S. (1986). Attributional style in depression: A meta-analytic review.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50 974–991.Google Scholar
  37. Vaillant, G. E. (1977).Adaptation to life. Boston: Little, Brown, & Company.Google Scholar
  38. Vinoda, K. S. (1966). Personality characteristics of attempted suicides.British Journal of Psychiatry, 112 1143–1150.Google Scholar
  39. Wortman, C. B., & Dintzer, L. (1978). Is an attributional analysis of the learned helplessness phenomenon viable?: A critique of the Abramson-Seligman-Teasdale reformulation.Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 87 75–90.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert J. Silverman
    • 2
  • Christopher Peterson
    • 1
  1. 1.University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyCreedmoor Psychiatric CenterQueens VillageUSA

Personalised recommendations